Notion of Power in 'Orlando' and 'The Piano'

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The notion of power is presented in various ways in Woolf’s ‘Orlando ‘and Campion’s ‘The Piano’. This essay will compare these two texts and how they show power in different, yet similar ways. The first part of the essay analyzes the basic idea on gender roles of the Victorian and 19th century. The second part analyses Orlando aristocratic background and his ability to inherit riches. This is compared with Orlando as a woman who is unable to inherit. Thirdly, there will be a comparison on Orlando and the Piano, and how the women control the men. Lastly, the main points are summarized in the conclusion.

As both of the stories are set in the Victorian and 19th century, however, Orlando does begin at the Elizabethan period, yet it has a chapter set in the Victorian period. The concept of cultural expectations is present in both of the texts. In addition, cultural expectation played a vital role in the early periods. The expectations of men and women were fixed so to their time period. For instance, women were expected to be modest and take care of the household chores and children, since the men were expected to work and hold authority over the home. In other words, the concept of power was only present in male patriarchal rule; however, this notion of gender roles is challenged in these two texts.

In the first chapter of Orlando it gives a clear image of Orlando coming from a noble aristocratic upbringing. The notion of power is present in two different ways in Orlando, for instance, his noble upbringing gives him the power of authority. This is shown through his act of mutilating the ‘shrunken head of a moor:

“it- was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. It was the colour of an old fo...

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...This is shown through Baines making strange deals with Ada in order to posses her physically. In relation to Stewart, his madness was driven by Ada’s disobedience. Ada’s strength lies in her silence when she refuses to communicate with her husband. The notion of power is shown in different ways. The main concept is that women, such as Sasha and Ada have the most power over the men in the two texts. However, there are certain types of power that only the men have, such as inheritance in Orlando. This is also shown in The Piano when Baines has ownership over Ada’s piano in which Stewart sold to him. Thus, the notion of power is presented through language as Sasha communicates in French with Orlando as well as physical violence with Stewart. This is shown through Stewart’s attack to Ada. In other words, power is represented both positive as well as negative.

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